Thursday, June 30, 2016

Apparently I can't multi-task . . .

Y'all . . . I have been busy.  
I know, I know . . . everybody is busy these days.  But for reals, I have been getting it done.  I am so proud of myself.

I've also realized that when I laser focus in on a specific task, I just can't seem to do other stuff . . . like blog.  Or read.  Or cook dinner.  Or even leave my house. 

I wish what I had to tell you was more exciting, but alas . . . it's not.  I've been cleaning.  Like deep cleaning.  

Do you ever feel like you want to start from one corner of your house and clean and purge your way to the other side from the top to the bottom?  

We've been in this house for 17 years and stuff has accumulated, even though I think we do a good job of not being hoarders.  I'd like to move to have a fresh start, but that's not happening with kids the age of ours.  So I had to take matters into my own hands.  

It took me a few days of being lazy with Getzy and the oldest kid gone, but then my motivation found me.  I didn't take any before pictures because I really didn't start with the idea of accomplishing much . . . it just sort of happened.  

I started in Kyle's room because a.) he was home and b.) his closet was atrocious.  He wasn't super thrilled, but I agreed to rearrange his furniture so that helped my cause. 
That doesn't even do justice to all the stuff that came out of his closet . . .
also gone are the Legos and K'Nex, which were donated to the school.
It was kind of sad, but what can you do?  They are growing up.
And, yes, that's a bull whip, sling shot and air soft arsenal on his bottom shelf!  All boy!
So in each kids' room, I (sometimes we, if the kid was agreeable) cleaned the closets from top to bottom.  I cleaned the baseboards and vacuumed the room edges.  I steamed cleaned everyone's carpet.  I ordered new bedding and curtains.  I ran the stuff animals through the dryer to get the dust off and washed anything else I could find.  I rearranged everyone's furniture because it feels like new that way.  I wiped down the walls and cleaned above the windows and doors.  I cleaned out every dresser drawer, desk drawer and cubbyhole.  I bought bins at Target and made keepsake bins for each child . . . things like trophies, favorite trinkets, stuffed animals . . . and a scout bin with all their Boy/Girl Scout related items.  And I finally did little tasks that have been ignored forever like framed and hung certificates, organized martial arts belts on a display, hung the fancy lights I got each kid last year and a million other silly little tasks.  It felt amazing.  
Kyle chose his bedding, which was fun.  He had a sports theme before so this is more "grown up" I suppose.  And yes, he has a problem accumulating lambs.  Actually the problem is more my mother and me, but that's not important.
Amanda and I also went through our bookshelves and donated over 100 books.  We kept lots for "the grand kids" but have paired the shelves down to just what's current.  Oh, and her fancy turntable complete with my old 45 collection.  Raise your hand if you even know what I'm talking about.  
Abby showing off the cleaned up book shelves.
We have an oddly large upstairs landing so we use it to house books and dogs, obvs.
I am so thankful my kids are kind and generous and don't put too much value on "things."  They do have certain items they like and hold special, but they've never had a problem cleaning out and donating stuff they don't want any more.  Lots of parents tell me they like to clean when their kids are gone, but I like my kids to give me the okay to get rid of stuff.  We talk about how it's a blessing to someone else, even if it's no longer to them. 

A memorable moment happened this past week . . . I'd been cleaning out the boys' rooms and my own closet, kind of going back and forth so I wouldn't get bored in one spot.  Amanda, on her own accord, comes into my room with an armful of pajamas and says, "You can give these away because they will make someone else happier than they make me."  
This was like 10 o'clock at night . . . she's such a night owl.  
I told her to stop and wait so I could take her picture.  I wanted to remember her in that moment and what she said.  Isn't that what it's all about?  Not just thinking of ourselves, but others as well? Now listen, she can be a pain in the ass like every other kid, but overall she's a kind and thoughtful girl.  I did want to drop kick her when she said she wanted new furniture . . . since she had my "old stuff."  Yeah, poor thing has it rough . . . check out her small room and ratchet old furniture.  Not.
This furniture is heavy, and I totally switched around her room . . . strong like bull is what Amanda called me!  Ha!
The white vanity is new to her, but the rest of the furniture I got when I was 17.
It's terrible, right?  SMH.
Her new favorite item, besides her fancy new Nike shoes for middle school, is the "ghost" chair for her vanity.  You have to admit . . . it is super cool.  She needed a new one since we got rid of her old chair . . . there's a story on that one below.
What chair?  I don't see a chair!  
Ryan is my neat and tidy child . . . just like his father!  I wanted to surprise him when he got back with a fresh new room look!  I didn't have to throw anything away in his room, but I did pack up a lot of childhood trinkets and he also go new bedding, curtains and a furniture rearrangement.  I put crepe paper across his door so when he got home he had to break through for the big reveal!  
Those martial arts belts were a beast to display . . .
it involved zip ties, pliers and scissors.  Craftastic!
I made four trips to the Goodwill in the past week.  Now I know some don't care for Goodwill because they are kind of a "big business" company that pays executives well, but I think they do a great service to the community.  

I once took my Girl Scouts on a field trip to our local store, and we learned a lot about their work programs, how they donate goods to other countries and recycle electronics.  And quite frankly, I don't want the items, I'm too lazy to have a yard sale and I like the tax write off so it's all a win to me. 

My car was loaded down for those trips as well, and my swagger wagon isn't small.  
This was a light load compared to the other trips!
One day I did go twice because the heavy chair Amanda and I hated that went with her vanity didn't fit in the first run.  And I had one of those moments where I felt like a terrible human and got a perspective adjustment.  

So the first run was a car full, and this gentleman working the drop off door was not the fastest person on the planet.  He was quiet but helpful as I handed him things from the car.  When I drove back with just the chair, I thought I'd make it fast and easy on myself by rolling down my window for the receipt and popping the trunk for the door worker to get the chair.  Typically the workers want you to let them get it so I thought I was being both efficient and wise to just stay out of the way.  Bada boom, bada bing . . . in and out! 

I saw the same gentleman working and thought, well this won't be as fast as I'd hoped.  Sure enough, he didn't come to the car so I waited a bit and then just got out to get the chair and be done with it.  I know I sound like an impatient asshole, but I was very polite both times.  The "assholery" was only in my head.  He sees me and comes to the car.  I say all cheerful like, "Sorry, not a big donation . . . just a chair."  And he very slowly and kindly says to me with a smile, "Every donation helps.  Big or small.  It helps."  Then he took the chair from me and walked back inside.  
Of course I thanked him, but little did he know it was a thank you for making me slow down and realize all of my blessings in life.  It was a lovely change of perspective when I least expected it. And patience is a virtue that tends to allude me, but I'll keep working on it.  Progress, not perfect.  

Not only did I clean the entire upstairs, I also got some serious work done outside.  Getzy removed a couple of trees before he left.  He worked hard with the boys trying to remove the stumps but that job is a beast.  Here's some proof!
Abby and I were the peanut gallery sitting and watching the "show!"
Confession:  I love it when Getzy gets all manly and teaches the boys new stuff!  
He went from the ax to the chainsaw and then there was talk about using the Jeep to pull out the stumps.  Finally Getzy just gave up and said to pay a stump grinder . . . which was my thought all along!  The boys helped and chopped up some wood for the fire pit!  So I did him one better while he was away . . .
I know it doesn't look like much work but trust.  
I had the stumps ground and paid someone to lay new sod.  In order to get the yard ready for the sod, I went outside one night to remove the tree mulch, rocks, dirt and smaller roots left over from the stump grinding.  I worked like a day laborer and have a whole new appreciate for their hard work.  I took four wheelbarrow loads of crap off the yard and used a hatchet to get the remaining roots.  Uhm, yeah . . . I know what you're thinking . . . I am kind of a bad ass.  Just say it.
I swear it looks better in real life.  Stupid pictures.
And I couldn't just stop at new sod because I have long neglected our flowerbeds.  Gardening is not my jam, but I sucked it up and planted new flowers to make us look like we give a crap about the place.  Kyle and Amanda were super awesome helpers as well.  Sad truth . . . it was a ton of work and looks pretty close up but you can barely notice from the street.  Curses.  
What kid doesn't want one of these?  I had one when I was little too.
I'm sure it will die soon, but it's fun while it lasts.  
It wasn't all work while we were a family of three. I found the elusive Venus Flytrap . . . Getzy has been taking her to Home Depot to look for these for weeks . . . ha, they arrive just when he leaves!
Combing your hair is obviously optional in the summer.  
This handsome devil loves to make and eat fudge . . . it's kind of his signature dish.  He loves mint chocolate so we used the Andes bits and condensed milk to make this delicious delight.   It was seriously so good.  

We did do one day trip with friends last week . . . I didn't want to do any new adventures since Ryan was gone, but he's done Helen with us before so I didn't mind doing this without him.  
A motley crew for sure . . . but such good kids.
Kyle loves a lamb . . . see his room for proof.
Amanda loves all the animals . . . she even touched the legless lizard . . . no thanks.
My favorite - the Great Pyrenees dogs they use to guard the farm.  
We visited the North Georgia Zoo first . . . it's basically a giant petting zoo so we bought a couple of buckets of food to make it more exciting!  It seems like some tame family fun, right?  Uh, no.  It was not.  

There was tortoise sex.  And yes, I just said that.  I was awful . . . Especially with 4 teenage boys there.  They thought it was hysterical.  I was mortified.  
Look away . . . this is not that kind of blog.  
At first I just thought the bigger one was being a bully.  Everyone else was making inappropriate jokes because who in their right mind would have thought that was, in fact, what was about to happen.  I held firm to my 'he's just picking on the little guy' belief until he started moving and grunting in an unmistakable way.  I can't even.  I had to walk away.  Of course the boys have videos with sound effects to share with everyone.  It really is the stuff of legends and will live in family lore infamy forever.  
Those four boys are a serious squad . . . love those kids!
We hightailed it out of the zoo to head to our favorite spot for lunch . . . The Troll.  We ate early so we could get a spot right by the water.  It's over priced food, but you can't beat the scenery!  After lunch, we headed over to "shoot the hooch" on our tubing adventure!  They hadn't had rain in three weeks so it was running slow.  We opted for the short course, which still took almost 2 hours. Amanda got ahead of us, and I freaked out a bit but she was waiting for us at the end . . . she had just done this a couple of weeks ago with the Girl Scouts so thankfully she knew what to do!  It was a super fun day with friends.  

Well, that sums up the past couple of weeks.  Exciting stuff?  No, not really, but hey, that's life.  
The best news is my menfolk arrived home last night from their two week trek and being stuck in the Denver airport for 26 hours.  My heart is full and happy to have everyone back under one roof. I can't wait to see all their pictures and share their adventure!  

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Naked Rebellion

Confess . . . did you click on this post simply because 'naked' was in the title?  Fine, I'll confess.  I would have . . . if my friends are telling naked tales, I wanna know.  Geez.  Hold on.  I'll get to the naked details, but I need to explain some things first. 
It was even harder to tell my menfolk goodbye this week because I just got my family back together on Saturday for a couple of days.  Last week was so weird for us.  Our kids were skattered hither and yon, and it just didn't feel right.

Let's start with my Kyle . . . he went to Panama City Beach with his best friend's family.  We got back from Virginia on Friday afternoon.  He spent the night with his friend and left early Saturday for the beach.  That's how you turn and burn, btw.  
I love these people so much . . . they feel like family.  
The family he was with are some of our best friends so we knew he was in good hands.  I missed him like crazy, but we texted and chatted every day.  And obviously he enjoyed himself while his mama fretted over not seeing his sweet face for a week.  


My mini me enjoyed herself at Girl Scout day camp this past week.  I'm usually her leader, but she needs opportunities to be independent and blossom without me always being there . . . not that she has an problem being independent.  No, it's just me that hates to miss any minute detail of their lives.  Hello crazy.  
She's like her mama . . . she'll try any new adventure!  
She said she preferred kayaking over paddle boarding!
On Wednesday, the Girl Scouts her age take a field trip to go tubing in Helen, GA and then they spend the night in the cabins at camp . . . a big deal because they've been in tents previous years.  I knew she'd be fine because she's a baller and we've done the tubing thing before, but man was I anxious to hear they were okay all day.  

So I thought it would be a super fun bonding time with my oldest this week since we would have our days without the other two . . . a rare occasion and I was excited.  The teenager?  Not as much. Understandably so.  I guess.  Boo.

He mentioned wanting a Nike running hat so I was all excited and said we should go to the Nike outlet not too far up the road.  He agreed.  Shopping with my teen.  Woot.  

We get there, head straight to Nike, he walks around basically in a circle and was like, "Nah, I don't need anything."  I was like huh?  I make him pick out a new pair of running shorts, and we happen to find a t-shirt he likes on the way to the register.  No hats though.  So we leave there, walk to Under Armor, and he does the same store circle and then we leave.  Head to Lids . . . sees hats, doesn't like them so nothing there.  I'm like "Son, you're shopping with mom . . . pick some stuff out."  He says, "I don't really need a lot and don't want to waste your money."  How can I argue with that?  Gah, that boy.  
He did actually chat with me . . . after checking his "snap threads" and texts of course!
So instead of shopping, we tried a new Thai restaurant because fried rice is his jam.  Also spring rolls are a favorite!  He's up for trying new foods now that he's older and that makes me happy! We also order dumplings . . . he got fried and I got steamed so we could try both.  

The next day, when Amanda was at camp overnight, we decided to venture out a little further to satisfy our Thai food addiction.  He didn't want to go too far because he has plans to spend the night with friends . . . but since he agreed to dinner with us, he didn't want to back out on it.  This time he tried Pad Thai . . . but likes the fried rice better.  

So after dinner we drop him off at his friends house.  Now do the math.  Three kids.  All accounted for somewhere else.  We are home ALONE for the night.  That.  Never.  Happens.  

So like the hoodlums we are, we watched some of The Outlander in bed because alas, Getzy had to go to work at the ass crack of dawn the next day.  And speaking of ass crack, here's where the naked comes into play!  OMG stop.  You're gross.  
I don't ever sleep naked . . . for a couple of reasons.  Most importantly, because we have kids.  Like seriously, can you imagine running to see what's the matter with a kid in the middle of the night butt naked?  Talk about awkward.  And the other reason was because until recently, we had a dog sleeping in our bed for 16 years.  It just seems wrong on so many levels to sleep naked with a furry friend under the covers.    

So I'm wearing some "mom pajamas" . . . like just basic top and bottoms that cover everything, and I can walk around in front of the kids in them.  I'm laying there watching TV and we're about to go to sleep when it hits me . . . there are no kids and no dog around.  What am I doing fully clothed?  I announced to Getzy that I was going rogue and sleeping naked simply because I COULD.  

I wish I could tell you it was a more smooth transition, but no.  I just yanked off the pjs and tossed them to the side of the bed.  There was no rhyme or reason, no sexy build up, nothing.  Just me laying there with a big grin on my face thinking I'm a total bad ass.  
I know I built this up to more than it actually was and for that, I'm totally not sorry.  What did you expect?  I'm a middle age mom over here.  For the record, I used to sleep naked eons ago . . . you should try it.  So freeing.  I just wish I had thought of it earlier because I had to pick up the pajamas the next morning, and the laundry fairy never visits here.  Ha!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

There goes half my heart . . . to Philmont

Today is the day . . . the beginning of the journey that has been well planned and for which they are well prepared. (Is that correct grammar?  I didn't want to leave a dangling preposition.)  Getzy and my oldest Ryan are heading out to Cimarron, New Mexico to enjoy a two weeks high adventure trek at the famous Philmont Scout Ranch.  Clearly they love to pose for my pictures . . . well, to be fair, the sun was glaring in their face.  
Feel the love!  Their backpacks and hiking boots are stuffed in the big yellow bags . . .
we lovingly refer to those as the "body bags!"  They are huge!
Two weeks.  I die.  Today it feels like forever, but I know the time will pass quickly because this feels like yesterday . . . Cub Scout day camp from 7 years ago.  Now he's 14 and seems more like a man than a boy.
He has always been such a good boy . . . I truly am lucky God gave him to us.
Alert:  sentimental mom . . . tread lightly.  
When I say they are well prepared, I mean it.  They've done a long training hike every month this year . . . the last being 20 miles in one day.  Ballers, for sure.  Also Ryan ran and Getzy coached distance track this spring so they've gotten in some serious mileage.  

We are blessed to have the beginning of the Appalachian Trail right in our 'backyard' and that's where they've done several prep hikes.  Hiking even a small portion is on my bucket list . . . I think I'll have some excellent guides when the time comes!
The infamous backpacks . . . your whole trip depends how how much
your pack weighs and how you wear it on your back.  
In fact, they did a 3 night 4 day hike this time last year on the AT . . . I thought that was a long time to be away from my menfolk.  Gah.  
Apparently Kyle's pack is heavy or uncomfortable . . . ha!
Ryan looks so much younger here.
They were packed, ready and waiting this morning . . . everyone was all smiles and ready to get the show on the road.  
These two . . . they are so much alike!  And yes, I'm hiding
their troop information to protect the (presumed) innocent.
I'm not sure all the scheduled fun, but I did hear tale of burro racing (#jealous), shotgun shooting, rappelling . . . oh, and hiking like 75ish miles.  I can't wait to see pictures and hear the stories.  I have heard the word "Baldy" a few times so I think that is where they trek will be . . . uh, that doesn't seem like the easiest one around.   
I "borrowed" this photo from the Internet . . . can you for reals see Canada
 from New Mexico?  Seems far fetched to me.  Guess they will let me know.
My loves . . . all together this morning with our Abby girl.  At least I get some quality time with those other two cuties!
Sleepy heads . . . love them so.
I hope Getzy has a blast with Ryan because he will get to do this again in 2018 with Kyle.  Kyle is too young to go this year, but we of course want him to get the same amazing experience.  

Getzy went as a teen and says it was a life changing experience.  How freaking cool is it that he gets to experience it with his son?  I love this picture of when he did it the first time back in 1985 with his brother and two friends.
A few things:  Getzy will die when he sees I've defaced his picture with a heart.  *giggles*
I don't think anybody packed tube socks this time . . . thank goodness.
He has an identical twin . . . I don't think they look so identical in this picture!
I'm really just making this harder on myself finding these old pictures . . . I need to stop.  Y'all have a terrific Tuesday . . . I'm going to go hug my dog and my other two kids.  And call my mom.  

Monday, June 13, 2016

Orlando

These feel like dark times, but we need to live in the light.  We need to focus on the good in people, not their flaws.  We need to appreciate and accept the differences in others, not criticize and judge. We need to love the unlovable to show them there is light and encourage them to find their way to it.  

Sometimes people do horrible things.  It's logical to be angry at them and 'hate' their actions.  But what makes me sad is that this senseless act will more than likely cause us, as a country, to focus on issues that are more divisive than uniting.  

I don't like extremes . . . whether they are religious, political, social, financial . . . this list could go on and on.  There are always different points of view . . . whether we agree with them or not.  I do, however, believe in right and wrong . . . and this act is wrong.  I also know there is so much good . . . so many good people.  Let's not lose sight of that and make this shooting about something it is not. 

My heart goes out to all those affected.  I pray for peace and light and love.  

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Well, those 2 months went by fast . . .

Where have I been?  Doing life.  Some of it has been awesome and fun.  Some of it . . . not so much.  I'll try to catch you up in future posts . . . so much to recap.  Let's start with the happenings of the past couple of weeks!

First up . . . school is out for the summer!  Praise Jesus hallelujah.  I can't even with the fact that I have a rising freshman and no more elementary school kids.  Where.  Does.  The.  Time.  Go? Poof . . . they grow up.  
I think everybody basically looks the same . . . except the boys have more hair and Amanda has less.  Snicker.  You will be happy to know the boys have gotten haircuts since the last day . . . not a minute too soon.  

Amanda ended 5th grade like a boss and basically was all like "See ya suckas . . . I'm off to middle school."  No tears were shed.  That's my girl.  

Kyle was just thankful to make honor roll and earn Snapchat . . . 7th grade out for him!

Ryan nailed 8th grade . . . he makes it look so easy.  He's ready for for 9th grade, but his peeps are spread over three high schools so that's kind of a bummer.  He'll rock next year . . . he's already joined the cross country team and been selected for the 9th grade leadership team.  Bam, make it happen kid!

Next up . . . our rule is that our kids are not allowed to have cell phones in elementary school . . . mean parent alert because seriously, like every kid has a phone.  So, what happens the day after elementary school is over?  This little nugget got her first phone.  Oh, and Kyle and I may have upgraded ourselves since they were having a BOGO on iPhone 6s's.  YOLO!
Then the next day we loaded up the family truckster and head "home" to Virginia.  No rest for the weary.  And for the record, I didn't take many or very good pictures . . . I always do that and regret it.  

My mom's husband built her an absolutely beautiful home . . . I like to call it his love letter to her because when I look at it, I just "see" my mom.  
It sits on ten beautiful acres . . . which equals a lot of grass mowing.  Granny tried to teach Amanda how to use the riding lawn mower.  One problem . . . Amanda didn't weigh enough so when the blade was down, the lawn mower cut off as a safety feature to prevent a runaway lawn mower. Cracked me up.  
Side note on that grassy 10 acres . . . my Ryan parked himself on the riding lawn mower for four hours and mowed the whole darn thing.  Yours truly used the (non-self propelled) push mower to trim until we ran out of gas.  I was feeling every bit of it the next day.  Ryan and I both agree we like cutting grass because it's so satisfying to see the progress.  Freak shows.  We know it.  

My men also chopped some serious wood . . . they filled the whole woodshed for winter.  Getzy taught my boys how to use an ax.  I stayed inside until they learned because as you can imagine, my nerves were on edge (pun intended) when axes arrived on the scene.  You gotta admit though . . . they look super bad ass.  
And for the record, big brothers always act like well, big brothers.  I am super thankful for this guy . . . he was very patient with my kids and taught them lots of cool stuff.  
It wasn't all work though . . . there was bike riding, snow cone eating, porch swinging, card playing, movie watching and so much more.  I got to visit with some of my favorite friends from my childhood and college days.  I love these ladies so much and am thankful we have stayed connected.  Here's to Lynn, Delphine, Renee, Laura, Teri and Karin.  Smooches. 

There was also metal detecting and subsequent digging because the ten acres is near the Cold Harbor battlefield of the Civil War.  Getzy is obsessed with finding artifacts . . . nothing exciting this time.  
There was mini bike riding . . . this is an original Honda 50, the first mini bike Honda ever made. Ray Ray and my brother got it running, and the kids had a blast riding it.  I have lots of videos but only one picture.  Look at my handsome Kyle . . . biker dude.  
There was a 21st birthday to be celebrated with the 'favorite' aunt as I like to call myself!  That included dinner at a yummy Italian restaurant, Joe's Inn, and drinks at a happening bar called Kai, complete with an adorable bartender and rocking DJ.  I outlasted the 21 year old.  True story.
There was a Bronco to rev up and drive around without a muffler making it so loud it could be heard the county over.  It's my nephew's pet project and has now been shipped back to Chicago so he can work on it with my brother!
There were chicks to foster.  These little beauties were procured for a quarter each and live at the neighbor's house, which is Raymond's sister Linda!  We went over to check on them and decided we needed to keep a few for the week.  Amanda was in heaven with her baby chicks.  Please meet Frank, Bob and Wanda.  
These are my two favorite chick photos . . . so sweet!
We took Granny to one of our favorite restaurants in the Fan area of Richmond, Strawberry Street Cafe.  It's nice to visit places still around 20 years later.  
Then we tried a new spot . . . The Sugar Shack!  Oh my goodness.  The picture speaks for itself.  
The sun was in their face, and I told them they could look miserable for the picture.  Check.

So, it's time to be serious.  Remember those "not so fun things" I referenced above?  So this wasn't my typical trip home, even though we did some fun stuff and I got to see some friends.  I also spent time in the hospital waiting room.  

My mom met Ray Ray (that's what I call her husband) after my dad died, and they've been married 15 years this year.  My heart hurts because Ray Ray was recently diagnosed with cancer.  He's a good man, and I am thankful that he's been there for my mom all these years.  I don't call him my stepdad because I was in my 20's when they met, but I do love him so.  Please lift him up in prayer because he has a long hard battle ahead.  But if I've ever met a tough guy who will fight, it's him. He's got this.